4WD Trips around Reefton

Reefton has some classic 4WD adventures to choose from. Fill the vehicle with family and supplies, then drive off into the Goldfields of Quartzopolis.


The Maiden 4WD Voyage

The Waitahu Valley-Clematis Swingbridge

The Waitahu Valley, with its granite bouldered river and 4WD road, is an idyllic experimental expedition. For a novice four wheel driver, it will challenge in places, yet remain highly accessible. Make it a double family adventure with fishing rod and lure. Or triple adventure with the ‘dare to do, sand-fly swim’. In Reefton the backcountry fun is only 5 mins away.

Head out of town towards Westport and turn right onto Gannons Rd. The 4WD track starts at the end of this road.

View Waitahu Valley – Clematis Swing Bridge in a larger map

Difficulty: 2 Easy (suitable for all ages)
Length: 7km one way
Time: 2hrs driving one way
Start point: Gannons Road end
End point: Clematis Suspension Bridge
Other options: Walking & Tramping, Fishing, 4WD, Picnic, swimming

Getting There:
Drive out of Reefton toward the Inangahua Junction. Turn left on to Gannons Creek Road and follow this right to the end of the road. After you cross the Waitahu River the 4WD road begins.

The Drive:
The trip is predominantly easy 4WD driving with the odd challenging stream crossing, some smooth boulder sections and occasional short hill climbs. It is not extreme 4WD conditions. The climax of the trip is the Clematis swing bridge that spans 50 metres across the deep waters of the Waitahu. The road beyond the swing bridge levels out onto grassy open flats before it becomes much rougher. Beyond here it is better for very experienced drivers or mountain bikers. After around 7km up the valley you will reach Montgomery Hut. From here, you can carry on by foot up to the immense, 15 stamper, Lord Brassy Stamper Battery (3 hours return walking).


Big River: The Big Classic

This is one of NZ’s all time classics. Quintessentially West Coast with loads of old, gold history, limitless beech forest and a challenging 4WD trail. There are so many ways to enjoy this trip. Try a day trip or stay overnight at Big River Hut, alternatively set up a mountain bike or tramp to the historic township of Waiuta. The big red winding shed, poppet head and sawmill site are historic pillars in the wilderness of Big River.

View Big River four wheel drive road in a larger map

Difficulty: Rough and narrow, for drivers with experience.
Length: 25km one way
Time: 3-4hrs driving one way
Start point: Reefton
End point: Big River Hut
Other options: Walking & Tramping, History, Stay overnight, Mountain biking

Getting There:
Just as you leave Reefton heading toward Greymouth you will find Soldiers Road on your left. This road soon turns to gravel. Keep going until you see the Big River sign and veer left onto the 4WD road.

The Drive:
This is a true historical adventure. The old road ranges from gravel roads to tricky rocky sections with some steep descents, plus stream crossings (avoid driving in heavy rain as these streams can be uncrossable in flood). Your reward when you arrive at Big River is a museum in wilderness. The original winding engine covered under a big red shed, the poppet head, tramlines, dams, boilers, sawmills shrouded in forest, so much to see. Enjoy lunch or an overnight stay at Big River Hut. Drive out the way you came in.

Plan and Prepare
Before heading off road around Reefton make sure you plan and prepare.  Check the weather forecast and tell someone where you are going.

Guided 4WD Tours
If you are not sure that you have the experience to drive in to Big River but you have a reasonable four wheel drive vehicle, taking a 4WD tour could be a good option.  Contact Malcolm Langley (NZ Adventures) on 03 768 4176 or visit  www.nzadventures.co.nz for more information.

Photo Gallery:  (All photos taken by Malcolm Langley of NZ Adventures)